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Video: Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in flint water crisis

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Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in Flint water crisis

The Michigan solicitor general has announced criminal charges against Rick Snyder, the former governor, for “willful neglect of his duty,” saying he failed to protect residents during the water crisis in Flint.

“The water crisis in Flint is not a relic of the past. At this very moment, the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of officials at all levels of government. Richard Snyder, former Governor of the State of Michigan, is charged with two counts of willful negligence, each of a one-year misdemeanor, for willfully neglecting his mandatory legal obligations under the Michigan Constitution and of the Emergency Management Act, failing to protect the health and safety of Flint residents. No one, no matter how powerful or connected, is above responsibility when committing a crime. “This case has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship. It has to do with human decency, resuscitating the complete abandonment of the people of Flint, and finally, holding people to account for their alleged unspeakable atrocities that happened in Flint all those years ago.

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Former Michigan governor indicted for negligence over Flint water disaster

FLINT, Michigan – Rick Snyder, the former Michigan governor, was arraigned Thursday on a misdemeanor charge relating to his role in the Flint water crisis.

Mr Snyder, appearing on video at the Genesee County Courthouse in Flint, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of his duty. If found guilty, the charges carry a maximum jail term of one year or a fine of up to $ 1,000.

Dressed in a dark jacket and face mask, Mr. Snyder said little during the brief arraignment, responding “Yes, Your Honor”, when the judge asked if he still lived in Michigan. Brian Lennon, an attorney for Mr Snyder, said the former governor was not guilty of the charges.

Mr. Snyder was released on bail and ordered not to leave Michigan without the judge’s permission. Mr Snyder did not speak to reporters when he left the courthouse.

In a statement, Mr Lennon said the charges were “completely unfounded” and that he expected the former governor to be exonerated. “Today’s charges do nothing to do justice to the people of Flint,” he said. “These unwarranted allegations do nothing to resolve a painful chapter in our state’s history. Today’s actions only perpetrate scandalous political persecution.

Several other officials were also recently charged with crimes related to the water crisis in Flint. They included Nick Lyon, the former director of public health; Howard Croft, former director of public works; and Darnell Earley, former city emergency manager.

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Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in flint water crisis

Rick Snyder, the former Michigan governor who oversaw the state when a water crisis devastated the town of Flint, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of his duties, court records show .

The charges are felony punishable by imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to $ 1,000.

Michigan prosecutors will report their findings in a broad investigation into the water crisis on Thursday, officials said, a long-awaited announcement that is also expected to include charges against several other officials and senior advisers to Mr Snyder. .

Results will be announced by Dana Nessel of Michigan the Attorney General, Fadwa Hammoud, the state solicitor general, and Kym L. Worthy, the senior district attorney for Wayne County.

Charges had previously been filed in connection with the crisis, which began in 2014, but in June 2019 prosecutors stunned Flint by dropping all outstanding charges.

Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency officials who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been charged by state prosecutors with crimes as serious as manslaughter. Seven had already entered into plea agreements. Eight others, including most of the top officials, were awaiting trial.

Brian Lennon, an attorney for Mr Snyder, said Wednesday evening: “We believe there is no evidence to support criminal charges against Governor Snyder.”

He added that lawyers for the former governor had requested a confirmation of charges – or a copy of them – but had not yet received them from prosecutors.

Randall Levine, a lawyer for Richard L. Baird, a former senior adviser to Mr Snyder, said on Tuesday he was informed this week that Mr Baird would be among those facing charges related to the water crisis .

“At this time, we have not been made aware of the nature of the charges, nor how they relate to his position in the administration of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder,” said Mr. Levine. “Rich’s relationship with the Flint community has always been strong. When Flint’s water crisis hit, Governor Snyder didn’t ask him to come to Flint, but instead raised his hand and volunteered.

In 2016, Mr Snyder apologized for what had happened, but for many residents of Flint it didn’t go far enough.

“He pushed it all to the side, and he pushed people to the side,” said Floyd Bell, a Flint resident whose two small grandchildren were poisoned with lead when they were babies and still have. developmental difficulties. “If he was truly aware of what was going on, he should be held accountable.”

Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Flint who has warned officials about lead in the drinking water supply, said the prospect of new charges is a reminder that “accountability and justice are essential to health and upon recovery ”.

“This news is a balm, but it’s not the end of the story,” she said in an email. “Healing wounds and rebuilding confidence will take decades and long term resources.”

Melissa Mays, one of the first people in Flint to bring attention to the city’s water problems, said that given the attorney general’s office remained silent for more than 18 months, she was concerned that the accusations don’t go far enough.

“In Flint, we have been living in prison for almost 7 years and are forced to pay for water which still circulates in corroded and damaged infrastructure on the streets and in our homes while those responsible walk freely”, a- she writes. in an email. “We at Flint deserve TRUE justice and that means rich white politicians and agency heads are going to jail for their actions and inaction that have caused us so much damage and loss.”

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Wall Street watches billions in Colorado water

He added, “The market looks like water is much more valuable for urban populations.”

Stakeholders range from financial firms and university endowments to investor groups, including at least two in Colorado headed by former governors. T. Boone Pickens, the Texan oil tanker who died in 2019, was one of the first water buying evangelists. Another proponent is Michael Burry, the hedge fund manager described by Christian Bale in “The Big Short,” who overdrafted over $ 800 million in the subprime mortgage market in the mid-2000s.

Matthew Diserio, chairman and co-founder of hedge fund Water Asset Management, called America’s water sector “the world’s largest emerging market” and “a trillion dollar market opportunity.”

WAM, based in New York and San Francisco, invests heavily in water-related companies, and one of its main activities is collecting water rights in arid states like Arizona and Colorado. . Since leaving government, Mr. Eklund has become WAM’s legal advisor and public face.

“They make water a commodity,” said Regina Cobb, the Arizona assembly that represents Cibola. “It’s not what water is supposed to be.”

Private investors would like to integrate or amplify existing elements of Wall Street for the water industry, such as futures markets and trading that takes place in milliseconds. Most would like to see the price of water, long remained silent by utilities and governments, rise sharply.

Traders could exploit volatility, whether due to drought, failing infrastructure or government restrictions. Water markets have been called an “arbitrage haven,” an approach in which professionals use speed of negotiation and access to information for profit. The situation has been compared to the energy markets of the late 1990s, in which companies like Enron made money through shortages (some of which, it turned out, traders designed for themselves. same).

Many see the pact as a safeguard isolating the river from the market.

The states in negotiation will focus on restoring the flow of the Colorado River, which has been so diminished by use that from 1998 to 2014, it did not even reach its natural terminus in the Gulf of California. But they will also seek to rebalance water levels in Lakes Powell and Mead, two federally owned reservoirs that hold water for use in extreme drought.